Fantasy Exit Interviews -- NFC North


NFC North


Chicago Bears (12-4)

2018 Team Offensive Ranks Total offense: 9th
Passing: 21st
Rushing: 11th

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing: Mitchell Trubisky -- 3,223 yards, 24 TD, 12 INT (QB15)
Rushing: Jordan Howard -- 935 yards, 9 TD (RB20/RB20)
Receiving: Allen Robinson -- 754 yards, 4 TD (WR41/WR40)

What went right: All eyes were on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky after an uneven rookie season and a head coaching change. With Matt Nagy in charge, the Bears offense took a step forward with Trubisky himself having a stellar mid-season run that began with a six-touchdown game in Week 4. A lot of his value was added with his legs, rushing for 30 yards per game. This was also the season that running back Tarik Cohen came into his own. The second-year running back asserted himself in the passing game, playing a similar role to what Kareem Hunt had in Nagy's offense with the Kansas City Chiefs and finishing second on the club with 725 receiving yards. It's not often that we highlight defenses in fantasy but the Bears landing sack master Khalil Mack in a trade with the Raiders took a very good stop unit and vaulted it to the next level.

What went wrong: Chicago's passing game came in fits and starts this season. Trubisky's overall numbers were well above what he posted in his first campaign but the week-to-week consistency was lacking -- especially in the later part of the season. That aerial inconsistency made it hard for fantasy managers to count on any of the Bears pass-catchers. Allen Robinson and Trey Burton generated a lot of preseason excitement, but both underwhelmed. Yet the biggest frustration might have been Jordan Howard. The third-year back struggled to fit in to Nagy's system and as his ineffectiveness persisted, Cohen earned more opportunities.

What needs to improve: A second year under Nagy could do wonders for this group. The Bears offense will go as far as Trubisky can carry it. Yet you could make the argument that this was a redo of his rookie season after going from John Fox's uber-conservative to Matt Nagy's more forward-looking attack. Jordan Howard's future within the offense remains to be seen but after a poor showing in 2018, it's not likely that he'll be drafted as more than a low-end RB2 for the upcoming campaign.

Detroit Lions (6-10)

2018 Team Offensive Ranks
Total offense: 25th
Passing: 20th
Rushing: 23rd

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing: Matthew Stafford -- 3,777 yards, 21 TD, 11 INT (QB19)
Rushing: Kerryon Johnson -- 641 yards, 3 TD (RB33/RB34)
Receiving: Kenny Golladay -- 1,063 yards, 5 TD (WR21/WR21)

What went right: We saw a couple of new faces emerge in Deroit's offense in 2018. Kenny Golladay showed flashes at times during his rookie season in 2017 but took a big step forward this season. Despite concern that he and Marvin Jones were very similar players and could cannibalize one another's production, "Babytron" surged to being the top target and led the Lions in catches and receiving yards -- aided in part by Jones going down with a knee injury in November. In the backfield, it took a couple of weeks for Kerryon Johnson to emerge but the rookie finally earned a larger role in Week 3 and took advantage of it, running for 101 yards against the Patriots. At that point, Johnson started to usurp LeGarrette Blount's role as Detroit's lead runner until a knee injury landed him on injured reserve.

What went wrong: While a new head coach helped the offense in Chicago take off, the same couldn't be said of a new front man in Motown. Under Matt Patricia, a once pass-happy offense lost much of its punch through the air. Matthew Stafford failed to crack 4,000 passing yards for the first time since 2010 when an injury ended his season after three games. In 2018, Stafford's air yards per attempt fell a full yard from the season before. Things didn't get any better when Detroit traded receiver Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles, removing a player who excelled in yards after the catch. What remained was an offense that lacked any real dynamism.

What needs to improve: Getting some healthy pieces should give the Lions more bite in 2019. Golladay wasn't enough to carry the offense by himself and it's hard to imagine the team went into the year expecting to lean on Blount. After the season, offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter was let go and replaced with former Seahawks O.C. Darrell Bevell. For anyone hoping Detroit might embrace a more aggressive offensive demeanor in 2019 will have to wait and see.

Green Bay Packers (6-9-1)

2018 Team Offensive Ranks
Total offense: 15th
Passing: 9th
Rushing: 22nd

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing: Aaron Rodgers -- 4,442 yards, 25 TD, 2 INT (QB6)
Rushing: Aaron Jones -- 728 yards, 8 TD (RB23/RB24)
Receiving: Davante Adams -- 1,386 yards, 13 TD (WR3/WR2)

What went right: After two seasons in the NFL, people wondered aloud whether or not Davante Adams was a bust. After Adams' 2018 season, people are now debating where he slots among the NFL's elite receivers. The Fresno State product set career-highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns -- reaching double-digit scores for the third consecutive season. Running back Aaron Jones was suspended to begin the season but was easily Green Bay's most effective back once he was on the field. The biggest problem was that Jones' opportunities were limited in an offense that still relied heavily on the right arm of Aaron Rodgers.

What went wrong: It's hard to imagine that Aaron Rodgers could ever be part of the problem but the veteran quarterback wasn't quite the cure-all he had been in previous years. Among qualified passing leaders, only four players held the football longer than Rodgers. Some of that was owed to Mike McCarthy's stale offense but some of the responsibility falls on the man throwing the ball. It didn't help that Rodgers lacked trust in most of his pass-catchers. Adams led the way with 111 catches. The next closest receiver was rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling who caught 38 balls. Meanwhile, add Jimmy Graham to the list of disappointments. It was hoped that the veteran would be the missing piece Green Bay needed but he was rarely a factor with just 55 catches and a pair of touchdowns.

What needs to improve: If you paid any attention to the Packers at all, you heard plenty about the lack of creativity in the offense. Green Bay hopes that changes in 2019 after relieving McCarthy of his duties and replacing him with former Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. But even the most creative scheme falls flat without player performance and the Packers will need more out of their other receivers if this offense is to return to its formerly high-powered status.

Minnesota Vikings (8-7-1)

2018 Team Offensive Ranks
Total offense: 19th
Passing: 13th
Rushing: 30th

Statistical Leaders (Final positional ranking/PPR ranks)
Passing: Kirk Cousins -- 4,298 yards, 30 TD, 10 INT (QB13)
Rushing: Dalvin Cook -- 615 yards, 2 TD (RB31/RB30)
Receiving: Adam Thielen -- 1,373 yards, 9 TD (WR7/WR7)

What went right: It was the Year of Adam Thielen. One season after a breakout campaign in which he topped 1,200 yards, the Vikings' wideout went even bigger in 2018 with career-highs in catches (113), yards (1,373) and touchdowns (9). That performance overshadowed the fact that Stefon Diggs also set career-highs in every major receiving category. In short, the top two options in Minnesota's passing game were doing just fine in 2018.

What went wrong: We should probably start at the top. The Vikings spent a lot of money to add free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins to the roster, a move that excited a lot of fantasy managers after a pair of top 10 finishes while in Washington. The hope was that with better weapons in Minnesota, Cousins could challenge for a top five finish. while his numbers improved slightly over his 2017 campaign, his overall fantasy position did not. Cousins failed to crack the top 10 and fell short of expectations. Speaking of falling short of expectations, running back Dalvin Cook missed much of 2017 with a torn ACL and struggled for long stretches of 2018 with a nagging hamstring injury. That allowed veteran Latavius Murray to pick up more touches and muddy the waters in the Minnesota backfield.

What needs to improve: Under head coach Mike Zimmer, the Vikings' calling card has been defense. In 2019, they hope the offense can continue to evolve under new offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, who took over late in 2018 after Minnesota fired John DeFilippo. It appears that all of the pieces are in place, now it's a matter of figuring out how to best use them.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com and a man who is learning to be one with traffic. Send him your moments of transit zen via Twitter @MarcasG. If you read all of that, congrats. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram.